Karnataka language tensions: Nipani on the boil as Marathi-speakers oppose Kannada school

The Karadaga village in the Nipani taluka is inhabited predominantly by Marathi-speaking people, as the Maharashtra border is just 19 km away.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Nov 30, 2023 | 4:50 PMUpdated Nov 30, 2023 | 4:50 PM

Karnataka language tensions: Nipani on the boil as Marathi-speakers oppose Kannada school

Karnataka’s Nipani taluka in the Belagavi district is in the grips of some tension as local residents — predominantly Marathi-speakers — vehemently opposed the construction of a Government Kannada Primary School in the Karadaga village on Wednesday, 29 November.

The unrest has cast a shadow over Karnataka’s celebration of the Kannada Rajyotsava when the local School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) member of the state-run Kannada primary school geared up to perform the groundbreaking ceremony.

Nipani Block Education Officer (BEO) Mahadevi Nayak and other taluka officials intervened and defused the situation in Karada village.

This incident was proof that Marathi-speaking people were opposed to developments related to Kannada, said Kannada activists, demanding that the government intervene and initiate stringent action against such agitators.

Meanwhile, netizens — especially Kannadigas — reacted sharply to this development.

Also read: Maharashtra plans border panel office near Belagavi

The incident

Karadaga village is predominantly inhabited by Marathi-speaking people, as the Maharashtra border is merely 19 km away. It has land designated for Kannada, Urdu, and Marathi schools, where they are already running.

Nipani BEO Mahadevi Nayak told South First that the building of the 50-year-old Kannada school was already in a dilapidated state.

Moreover, while the school has had over 200 students studying from Classes 1 to 7, this year that number increased threefold, she noted. Thus, a new Kannada school is being developed on the designated land.

The Marathi-Kannada confrontation came to the fore during the groundbreaking ceremony of this new construction on Wednesday. Strong opposition from the Marathi people compelled the school authorities to discontinue the groundbreaking ceremony.

The BEO and other taluka officials swiftly intervened to control the situation.

Nayak told South First: “As soon as this came to my notice, I rushed to the spot and controlled both the sides. It is true that the Marathi-speaking people are opposing the construction of the Kannada school here. The classes are now being temporarily held in a Marathi school.”

She added: “I convinced SDMC members of the Marathi school to allow the construction of the Kannada school. They said that they would discuss the matter with the villagers and announce their decision in 30 days.”

Also read: BJP elects Marathi-speakers as mayor, deputy mayor of Belagavi

Kannada activists demand action

Condemning the protests, the Kannada activists demanded action against the agitators.

Belagavi Kannada Organisations Action Committee president Ashok Chandaragi told South First: “The fight between the Kannada and Marathi people is not new in the Belagavi district. The Marathi people always make efforts to curb developments related to Kannada in the border areas.”

He added: “The state government has to take stringent action against those protesting against the construction of the Kannada school.”

He also said: “Additionally, the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi has been standing for over a decade now. The government has to declare Belagavi as its second capital to send a strong message.”